Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday. Coffee. Blog post. Yes! Thanks for joining me for yet another edition (for better or for worse ... I will let you make that call) of Friday Coffee with PJ. 

Earlier this week as I was heading to my doctor's office, I experienced a rather awkward elevator moment. As soon as the door closed behind me (I was the last to jump aboard), a big, burly, bearded man in the back of the elevator and to my right began to converse with the person immediately behind me who was wearing a knit cap pulled down almost over their eyes and a gender neutral sweat suit. Here is how it went: 


Burly man - "How are you doing?" 
Quiet person - No response.
Burly man - "Excuse me, are you a man or a woman?" 
Quiet person - "A woman." 
Burly man - "You sure are quiet" 
Quiet person - "Not a good day." 
Burly man - "Why is that?"
Quiet person - No response. 

Thankfully at that moment, the elevator door opened and Quiet Person got off. Once the door closed, Burly Man said to his friend, "Hmmm. Guess I should not have asked her that question" (duh ... now that's the first smart thing I heard the guy say!). Then he added, "But I just hate it when people respond like that!" 

Ouch! There is one guy who has no tact whatsoever! But as I reflected on this unfortunate exchange, it got me thinking about my own interactions with people (those I know and those I don't). Am I tactful? Do I show respect? Am I fulfilling God's mandate on how I should be talking to others? 

Friends, if we keep the mandate God gives us to govern the use of our tongue in our everyday conversations, we will avoid awkward moments such as the one I experienced (and this poor woman endured.) So what is this  mandate? Here it is . . . Read it! Memorize it! Pray it! Practice it! 

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but ONLY such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29). 

Are you hearing what God is telling us? If we are to fulfill this mandate, we must begin our conversations with a willingness to listen. Only as we listen will we be able to speak words which "fit the occasion" and build up those with whom we are conversing ... giving them grace! Our problem is that far too often we are too focused on what WE want to say to give much thought (if any) to what the people to whom we are talking with need to hear. 

It was very obvious to me that Burly Man in the elevator did not have this woman in mind in his conversation with her. That came out in the words he was saying and how we was saying them. I am guessing that as she exited the elevator, her bad day had just got worse.  

I hope that is not true for you today as you read my post! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Friday Coffee with PJ

This week, I was given quite a gift - a box containing 10 k-cups of Starbucks Pike Place Roast (which happens to be a favorite of mine!). I have already enjoyed one cup and am eyeing up another! So pour yourself a cup of your favorite blend and join me for a couple of random thoughts. 

1. Mark in his gospel tells of an interesting story about Jesus and his family. The story begins with an individual informing Jesus that his mother and brothers had come looking for him (Jesus was inside teaching a houseful of people). Jesus asked the man, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:33-35).

Wow! Isn’t that an incredible thought! You and I – if we are following Jesus – WE are a part of HIS family! The Creator-God of this vast universe is our Father. Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior is our brother. This realization is both comforting and sobering. Comforting to know that in this troubled and often painful world, we don’t have to go it alone!  We are part of a divine family. And as part of HIS family, God will take care of us! But this truth is also sobering. Since we are part of God’s family, we must ask ourselves if others see in us “the family resemblance.” When my two oldest children worked as servers at the local Red Lobster, my wife and I would often stop in when they were working and request to be seated at one of their tables (it felt good being served by our kids!). They would often tell us later how many of their co-workers commented on how much they looked like us (not really what two twenty-something young adults wanted to necessarily hear!). But neither our kids nor my wife and I were surprised. They should look something like us – after all we are family!  How about YOU?  Do you resemble your Father and Brother?  Make spending time with Him a priority. As you do, you will grow increasingly like Him! 

2. Another Valentine's Day has come and gone. I took my wife to dinner and we had a wonderful time going through the Drive thru at the nearby McDonald's! Ha! Not really. We went out to a much nicer restaurant, requested a table close to the fireplace and enjoyed some quiet time together. Valentine's Day is a good time to let your special someone know just how special they are. But it's also a wonderful day to remind ourselves of just how much God loves us. And how much does he love us? Enough to give us the very life of his son ... who died on a cross some 2000 years ago to pay in full  the penalty for our sin that a just God requires. How thankful I am EVERYDAY for the love of God in Christ! 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

As I was leaving one of our local hospitals this week, I could not keep from stopping at the Skylight Cafe for a coffee to take on the road. As I stepped up to order, Rosa, the barista, greeted me with a smile and words which pleased my taste buds, "We are brewing Costa Rica today." Ahhh. One of my favorite coffee blends by Peet's Coffee. If you get the chance to try a cup, I highly recommend it. SO all that to say, please pour yourself a cup of your favorite roast ... and join me for a couple of random thoughts. 

1. In addition to Peet's Costa Rica coffee, here's another recommendation for you. Let me preface this with a statement. If you are anything like me, you wish you would be praying better and praying more. In fact, I would guess that the average Christian if asked to draw up a list of things they would like to improve in their walk with God, "my prayer life" would be somewhere near the top. With that said, here's a suggestion about a tool which I have found very helpful. It's a series of little books published by the Good Book Company.  The book I have been using the past month or so is 5 Things to Pray for Your Church.  I have found this book to be an excellent help in guiding my prayers. It is very life practical and solidly grounded in Scripture! This leads to praying with more confidence, knowing we are praying according to the will of God (1 John 5:14). The result of this being that I have found myself praying better .... and praying more (by the way, I have been so helped by this book, I have ordered two additional books in this  series). So check out the book. It is also available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. 

2. This past Sunday evening, I tuned in to watch the Super Bowl along with over 100 million other viewers. Now I am not the football fan I once was. But I still enjoy watching a good game. And the game between the Eagles and Patriots was just that. The second half in particular went back and forth, with the final outcome in doubt until the final play ("Hail Mary" passes are successful about 3-5% of the time). I am sure fans on both sides were on edge as Tom Brady reared back and threw. Moments after the ball fell harmlessly to the turf, I heard loud bangs coming from outside. The Eagle fans in my neighborhood had begun their celebration! A celebration which culminated with a parade yesterday morning through my old turf of Center City Philly (attended by some 2 million ecstatic Eagle fans). 

All if this reminds me of human history. Often it seems like evil has the upper hand (think of the world wars of the last century or the increasing moral confusion of today). But then there are those times when God breaks through and his goodness and righteousness is exalted (think of the Great Awakening of the 16th century and the growth of the church in China across the course of the past several decades). But unlike the back-and-forth Super Bowl contest, the contest between God and evil has an outcome that you can be sure of! God is the God of history (a story which is HIS-story!). And the day is surely coming as described in the closing chapters of the Bible's final book (Revelation) when the Sovereign God will bring history as we know it to an end. This will happen when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth (see John 14:3 and Revelation 22:12-13 ... these are just two of many verses in the Bible which tell of the return of Christ). Bottom line, in this cosmic battle between God and Evil ... God is going to win! Knowing that, let me ask you a question. If Jesus were to return tonight, would you be ready? No one knows the time of his return (Matthew 24:36). But this does negate the fact that one day (and I believe that day is sooner rather than later) he will no doubt split the sky as he returns to planet earth. If you have any questions, doubts, etc. - please take a moment to check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj





Friday Coffee with PJ

Hey you all ... it's Friday and that means another edition of "Friday Coffee with PJ." So take a moment and brew yourself up a cup of your favorite coffee and join me for a couple of random thoughts that I hope you find just a bit worth thinking about! 

1. Happy Groundhog Day! Yup! Today is the day that our pudgy and furry groundhog friends get to make their prognostication concerning the impending arrival of spring. Of course, whether Punxsutawney Phil or Octoraro Orphie see their shadows or not, one look at the calendar shows to any sane individual that winter is not over ... not by a long shot! So bottom line, when it comes to forecasting the weather, these groundhogs are absolutely clueless! 

Obviously, if we want to find a more accurate weather forecast, we will go to the so called "experts." And as one who follows weather forecasting closely, I must say that meteorologists are getting better at doing so. And what about forecasting other things ... say, like the stock market, housing costs, or the price of milk? Again, we turn to the professionals who track such things. You certainly aren't going to go and ask a fifth grader if you should buy or sell your Apple stock (even if they are smarter than you)! 

And what of life in general? To whom should we turn for the forecast for our world? Hmmm. Perhaps the Creator of our world? Yup. That seems to make a lot of sense. After all, no one knows us and the world we live in as well as the one who made us and the universe! I encourage you to open your Bible (and if you don't have one, download the ESV Bible App on your phone or tablet ... or go buy a print Bible) ... and begin to read about the Creator's plan for us and the world we live in. Unlike the gophers who have no idea why they are awakened early every February 2nd and thrust into the spotlight, God KNOWS all there is to know about everything! And he has revealed all we need to know about making life work. Have you read from the Bible lately? 

2. Yale University is offering a course on happiness this semester (Psych 157). Over 1200 students have registered for the course (which is roughly one quarter of the undergraduate enrollment). Now this is telling, is it not? Happiness is something the human heart craves ... but all too often lacks (a 2013 report revealed that over half of undergrad students at Yale had sought out mental health care during their time at the university). 

Al Mohler, in his Daily briefing of yesterday, makes reference to this pursuit of happiness and how it relates to a Christian world view. He notes, 


"The Christian worldview notably doesn't promise happiness, at least not happiness as may be defined here (at Yale University) in emotional terms. The Christian worldview as we see in the Gospel of Jesus Christ promises us joy rather than happiness, and joy is a very different reality than mere happiness.

Happiness is an effective emotional state. Joy is an assurance, the knowledge of who God is and what he has done for us in Christ, the knowledge that nothing can separate us from the love of God. There is a joy in the Christian life even in the absence of what the world would define as happiness or any reasonable expectation of happiness. I'm not saying that Christians shouldn’t be concerned about happiness and shouldn't allow themselves at times to feel happy. But we can't allow ourselves to set happiness as our ultimate goal, and furthermore in an age well described in this article just seeing it as an illustration, we can't fall into the false promise of believing that if we just made some minor tweaks in our life or just adopted some principles of positive psychology we can all of a sudden find happiness. It's not going to come that way. Ultimately, any happiness that human beings will know is not going to last in emotional terms. That's not reality, but joy and Christian assurance and confidence, yes. That is the promise of the Gospel, and it's something infinitely more real than mere happiness."

If Mohler's words have stirred in you a desire to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. It may prove to be the most important five minutes of your life! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj






Friday Coffee with PJ

My apologies for missing the past several Fridays. I was off last week, and the previous couple of weeks I got caught up in the Thanksgivi...